May 26, 2010 -- The White House is seemingly making an increased show of pressuring BP, but President Obama is facing political heat from within his own party for what some say has been a lackluster response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The "political stupidity is unbelievable," Democratic strategist James Carville said on "Good Morning America" today. "The president doesn't get down here in the middle of this. ... I have no idea of why they didn't seize this thing. I have no idea of why their attitude was so hands off here."
On Thursday, Obama will announce new measures the federal government will take to try to prevent any future BP oil spills, administration officials said. And on Friday, the president will visit the Gulf coast, his second trip to the region since the environmental disaster happened last month.
But Carville said the Obama administration's response to the BP oil spill has been "lackadaisical," and that rather than place the blame on the previous administration, it should've done more to deal with BP and "inept bureaucrats," which would've in turn helped boost Obama's approval ratings.
"The president of the United States could've come down here, he could've been involved with the families of these 11 people" who died on the offshore rig, Carville said. "He could've demanded a plan in anticipation of this."
"It just looks like he's not involved in this," an angry Carville said on "GMA." "Man, you got to get down here and take control of this, put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving. We're about to die down here."
Carville added that the Obama administration needs to launch a federal investigation into the incident that has become a major environmental disaster and a headache for the federal government.
About seven million gallons of crude oil have spilled into the Gulf in more than a month, killing sea life and other wildlife.
Matthew Dowd, political consultant and chief pollster to former President George W. Bush, said the incident is likely to pose a huge political problem, similar to what President Bush faced after Hurricane Katrina.
"I think this incident that happened... is another example to the American public that they can't trust big corporations and they can't trust big government to protect them," Dowd said. "And I think ultimately it's going to be a real political problem."
"In a disaster like this, his [Obama's] numbers should actually be going up, not just staying stagnant, and I think ultimately they're going to drop," Dowd added.
Obama sent a message to the oil giant to keep the live feed of its "top kill" procedure online for the public to see. The procedure is designed to stem the flow of oil into the ocean.
Administration officials also said the government will make changes to the way it allows offshore drilling, including new measures for the permitting process, new safety requirements for offshore rigs, and what was described as "strengthened" inspections for drilling operations.
The changes will be announced after the president receives a report from Secretary of the Department of Interior Ken Salazar on the safety issues that have arisen as part of the investigation into the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20. The 30-day review was ordered by the president after the explosion and is technically due Friday, though Salazar will turn it in on Thursday.
Obama to Send National Guard to Border
The White House has also come under fire by Republicans for not being aggressive enough in dealing with the crime and violence in Mexico that's spilling into the United States.
The president today deployed 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to help Customs and Border personnel and providing an extra set of eyes at observation posts.
But Republicans slammed the figure, saying that a lot more will be needed to stem the tide. Others say it's merely a symbolic gesture that's unlikely to produce substantial results.
"Ultimately, this was a political move. He would not have done this but for what happened with Arizona," Dowd said. "Symbolism is very important, if you show up at disasters, it's important. There is symbolism here. I don't think it's going to have any substantive effect but it s a political problem when the majority of the country supports what Arizona did."
Obama will request $500 million from Congress this week to authorize the troop deployment.
White House officials said the move was not a response to the Arizona immigration law, but rather an effort to combat to the Mexican crime wave spilling across the border into the U.S., though they acknowledged efforts to stem Mexican drug trafficking would likely also lead to a reduction in illegal immigration.
"This is the latest step in an ongoing effort over the course of the past 16 months to increase pressure on transnational criminal organizations and illicit flows in both directions to ensure the Federal government fulfills its responsibility to secure the Southwest border," an administration official said.
Congress this week will debate the defense spending bill, which includes a provision to send 6,000 National Guard troops to the border. White House officials said that the president acted this week specifically because of legislative considerations, and the president wanted to head off at the pass a measure to authorize sending 6,000 troops, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates doesn't support.
Arizona's GOP Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl blasted the number, saying that the president is not sending enough troops.
"We believe it would be very helpful if the president could visit the Mexico-U.S. border so he could see firsthand the threat to the safety of Americans from illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and human smuggling," the two said in a joint statement Tuesday. "He could also personally witness the need for additional personnel, technology and infrastructure necessary to secure to the border."
The 1,200 National Guardsmen will be operating in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.